Dear Readers: A long time supporter of the Mystagogy Resource Center has informed me that they would like to donate $3000 to help me continue the work of this ministry, but they will only do it as a matching donation, which means that this generous donation will only be made after you help me raise a total of $3000. If you can help make this happen, it will be greatly appreciated and it would be greatly helpful to me, as I have not done a fundraiser this year. If you enjoy the work done here and want to see more of it, please make whatever contribution you can through the DONATE link below. Thank you!
(Total So Far - Day 4: $1750)

March 28, 2011

Saint Boyan-Enravota, the First Bulgarian Martyr

St. Boyan-Enravota the Martyr (Feast Day - March 28)

The Bulgarian State was founded on the Balkan Peninsula in 680 AD by a militant Turkic tribe - the Pra-Bulgarians (the "original Bulgarians"). It was chiefly populated, however, by local Slavic tribes which had much earlier established themselves in this region. For the most part these Slavs were already Christianized. This Christian population was augmented when the great Bulgarian khan, Khrum the Fearsome (802-814), in the course of his numerous incursions into Byzantium, captured many Byzantine Christians and brought them back to his country as slaves.

Among these captives was the learned Christian, Kinamon, who became a tutor of the khan's children. Khrum's heir, the pagan Khan Omurtag (814-831), whether because he noticed Kinamon's influence on his elder sons or simply out of enmity towards his Christian faith, tried to force Kinamon to take part in an idolatrous banquet. When Kinamen resolutely declined, Omurtag had him tortured and thrown into a dungeon where he languished for many years.

The Holy Martyr Boyan, Prince of Bulgaria, suffered for Christ around the year 830. When his pagan brother Malomir [Vladimir] ascended the Bulgarian throne, Prince Boyan asked him to free the learned Christian Kinamon, who had been in prison for a long time for refusing to participate in pagan sacrifices under Prince Omurtag (Obrit or Krutogon), Prince Malomir's predecessor.

Malomir consented and gave Kinamon to Prince Boyan as a slave. Boyan spoke to Kinamon about Christianity, telling him of the errors of paganism and that belief in Christ is necessary for salvation. At the end of their conversation he told the prince, "Without Jesus Christ there is no light for the mind, no life for the soul. He alone is the Teacher of mankind and our Savior. By His death, He has reconciled fallen mankind with God. If you do not wish to perish, believe in the Lord Jesus." Prince Boyan recognized the truth of his words, and was inspired to ask for Baptism.

The newly-converted prince was filled with a love of prayer, fasting and contemplation of God. Malomir, learning about the conversion of his brother to Christianity, demanded that he renounce the Christian Faith and return to paganism. Instead, the holy Prince Boyan answered, "I despise the pagan idols and I revere Christ, the true God. No one shall separate me from the love of Christ." Malomir, hearing his brother's reply, sentenced him to death.

Before his martyric death, the holy martyr-prince declared: "The faith for which I now die will spread throughout the Bulgarian land. You vainly imagine that you will stop it by killing me. Temples to the true God will be built, and priests will offer Him true worship. The idols and their foul sacrifices, however, will vanish." Then he said to his brother Malomir, "You will gain nothing from your cruelty, and death will soon overtake you."

The holy martyr was killed by the sword, and his predictions to his brother were the first to be fulfilled. Malomir soon died, and since he had no heir, his elder brother Presian (836-852) succeeded to the throne. Prince Presian's son, the holy Prince Boris, in holy Baptism Michael (May 2) later Christianized the Bulgarian nation. Thus the prophecy of the holy Martyr Prince Boyan was fulfilled.